Sunday, January 10, 2016

Rubio’s Four Measures against North Korea

The “hydrogen bomb” test, which North Korea conducted on January 6, has inflicted a tremendous impact on the world ("World Powers Unite In Condemnation of North Korea's H-Bomb Test Claim"; Buzz Feed News; January 6, 2016). Since they test nuclear bomb so repeatedly, it has become apparent that the global community needs to take more effective measures than those up to now. In view of this, Republican Senator Marco Rubio who is the most well-versed with national security among US presidential candidates of this election, suggests four measures ("Here Are Four Things Marco Would Do to Take On North Korea"; Marco Rubio.com). First, he argues that the United States put North Korea back on the list of terrorist sponsoring states. Second, he insists on tightening economic sanctions. Furthermore, his third idea is to rebuild the alliance with Asia Pacific nations and re-strengthen the US navy. Fourth, he suggests building up missile defense capability.

Among Rubio’s ideas, we can expect that the fourth measure of bolstering deterrence, notably building up missile defense, is very effective and relatively quick to carry out. The third measure of naval expansion is necessary and effective, but it cannot be done soon. It takes a long time to build war ships. Above all, we must enforce means stronger than economic sanctions, and tell North Korea that they shall never win in a victory over us. Moreover, the Chosun Ilbo insists that US forces in South Korea redeploy tactical nuclear weapon, which was withdrawn in early 1990s (“America Should Redeploy Tactical Nukes in Korea”; Jiji Press; January 7, 2016). The Korea Herald, an English language paper in South Korea, argues furthermore that the IAMD (Integrated Air and Missile Defense: See "US Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense System Defeats Cruise-Missile Target"; Defense News; November 13, 2015) be build, among the United States, Japan, and South Korea ("U.S. likely to step up efforts to build IAMD with Seoul, Tokyo"; Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance; January 7, 2016). We must demonstrate our defensive and offensive capability like this way, and never make them overconfident as to believe that they are stronger than us.

There is no doubt that economic sanctions are important. However, we must keep in mind that the global community has imposed sanctions on North Korea again and again. Also, it is inevitable that there are loopholes in economic sanctions, however strict they are. Above all, people who are already accustomed to poverty will hardly feel pains, even though we tighten sanctions. Past cases show that it takes a long time to see the effect of economic sanctions. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, mainly the Western alliance imposed sanctions on them, but that did not urge the Red Army to withdraw from there. Rather, it was military buildup of the Reagan administration like the 600 ship navy and the SDI (Strategic defense Initiative) that led the Soviet Union to adopt perestroika, as they found themselves incapable of keeping up with arms race with the United States. In another case, South Africa was imposed a sanction of oil embargo by Arab nations during the Apartheid era, but they managed to overcome it by coal liquefaction. Rather, South Africa in those days was the richest nation in Africa. Moreover, the United States and Britain regarded South Africa as buffer against communism, in view of strategic importance since the British imperial rule, as a geographic connecting link of Asia and Europe, and they were reluctant to join international sanctions.

Reviewing history as I mention above, I can hardly imagine that we can lead North Korea to yield to us simply by economic sanctions. After all, it is necessary to go into negotiations with North Korea through power-oriented diplomacy. Also, while China is a critical stakeholder in the Six-party talk, we should rather not over-evaluate their influence on North Korea. Even though India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests each other to heighten tensions in the 1990s, they have already stopped the test now. Only North Korea continues nuclear tests in the 21st century, and they do not care any persuasion by China. We can no longer expect that conventional measures will take effect to stop North Korea’s outrageous behavior. If we continued to leave North Korea overconfident, Iran would also act like this way, as they repeat clashes with the United States and Saudi Arabia from the very beginning of this year.